By Richard Charkin | @RCharkin
‘I Was Last in the Queue’As any “fule kno,” Frankfurter Buchmesse runs from a Wednesday to a Sunday in October every year. It seems that every year, at least for me, it starts earlier in the week and ends sooner: Monday evening to Thursday afternoon. This year is no different.
The plane from London is, as ever, full of British publishers, including a good friend sitting in 1A at the front. I was allocated 17B in keeping with my post full-time executive position.
Of course, the plane wasn’t able to park at the terminal and we were obliged to wait for coach transport.
Coach One arrived and absorbed the lucky passengers from the front. I had to wait on the plane steps for Coach Two when my friend from 1A rushed back to the plane to find his misplaced mobile phone. He couldn’t find it—by which time Coach One had set off for the terminal carrying his luggage.
So he was now without phone or luggage.
My tiny publishing company is called Mensch and the only properly mensch thing to do was to stay with my friend until his predicament was resolved one way or another. Fortunately, Coach One realized he was carrying luggage without a passenger and waited for us, where my friend found his phone at the bottom of a bag and all was well.
Unfortunately this all took time and when we arrived at Passport Control there was the traditional Frankfurt Book Fair huge queue. The photo above shows only half the line. It’s of course one of the many joys of Brexit. I was last in the queue.
My friend then showed me his second passport, a German one, and enjoyed the pleasure of waltzing through the European Union gates, leaving me to face the tedium tout seul. I cannot blame him for the lack of reciprocity: I’d have done the same.
I know that the EU wants to punish the UK for Brexit, but making all these perfectly innocent passengers from China, Japan, and India wait is taking it a bit far.
Apart from politics, the theme of this year’s fair is AI. I’m no expert but it wouldn’t seem too difficult for AI to work out when planes arrive and allocate passport officials appropriately. Or perhaps it only requires common sense.
My first date was at 8 a.m. on Tuesday for a meeting of the international advisory board of the fair, distinguished (apart from me) publishers from the USA, Canada, Germany, Spain, etc., to advise the fair’s management.
The proceedings are of course confidential and subject to the Chatham House Rule, so I’ll let you guess the main topic of conversation this year.
It’s a shame that this will rather overshadow the celebrations for 75 years of the fair.
I have attended 51 of these and am hoping for ‘several’ more—I was about to write ‘many’ but that would have tempted fate.
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Our 75th Frankfurt coverage from our Frankfurt Book Fair Magazine, which has been available throughout the trade show in print, is also available for your free download.
The magazine has more interviews with fellows and grant-program recipients from international publishing markets, as well as previews of programming from our Publishing Perspectives Forum at Frankfurt including our Executive Talks with Penguin Random House worldwide CEO Nihar Malaviya and Nanmeebooks’ Kim Chongsatitwana; highlights of key events at the 75th Frankfurter Buchmesse; and coverage of Frankfurt’s upcoming guest of honor programs (Italy, the Philippines, the Czech Republic) and this year’s Guest of Honor Slovenia.
There’s also news of literary agents and agencies; award-winning books from guest of honor markets; focus articles on artificial intelligence, sustainability; and a forthcoming effort to get more Korean literature into world markets; as well as 75th-anniversary “Frankfurt Moments.”